Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010
What the American public doesn't know is what makes them the American public.

The worst part about “Brand New Day”, Marvel’s quasi-reboot of the on-going adventures of the amazing Spider-Man a couple years ago, was how they made his identity secret again.  Never mind that at least two decades of continuity were rendered irrelevant with the flick of a switch.  Never mind that the editorial interference of Joe Quesada nearly pushed writer J. Michael Straczynski to remove his name from the finished product. The biggest Missed Direction as regards Peter Parker and the world at large knowing that he is Spider-Man is that Marvel already knew how to recover from this sort of dramatic change for a character, yet they still took the easy out.


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Sunday, Mar 7, 2010

‘Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules—and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress’.
-  Ransom K. Fern, Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan


‘And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!’
-  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan Or, A Vision In A Dream. A Fragment.”


‘Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction’.
-  Pablo Picasso


The perfect page is something many comicbook creators spend their entire careers searching for. The perfection of that single, solitary page is something that very few creators ever achieve in their entire careers, save for the elite few: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and later Moore and Eddie Campbell. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson.


Well, despite not having yet earned the reputation of a team like Lee/Kirby or even Ellis/Robertson, Jason Aaron and R. M. Guera of Scalped can be added to that list of creative teams who have, effectively, created a single, perfect page. Not only does this one page boils down the entirety of the work to a five panel log-line, but it also manages to craft a brilliant critique of colonization, genocide, the repetition of history, the ownership of this world, and the act of creation itself.


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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010

not simple unfolds like an intricately constructed piece of origami. Start with the title. It isn’t ‘complicated’, for example. ‘Not’ and ‘simple’: the two words appear late in the story, when one character attempts to describe what she thinks of the main character in this unusual manga. She calls him ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’:


‘But not like a child. You’re hard to grasp. You’re not simple’, she says.


Those few words encapsulate the entire 316 page story. They’re practically a haiku.


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Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010
How does this comic book adaptation hold up to the standard set by one of the longest running movie franchises in history?

Godzilla is one of the longest running film franchises ever, starting in 1954, with plans from both Legendary Pictures and Toho to create new Godzilla movies in the future. Godzilla is a character that is recognizable by multiple generations from different parts of the world. For myself, I remember my Dad and me watching various Godzilla movies on weekend monster movie marathons. (TNT’s “Monster Vision” comes to mind) I could not have been more than seven or eight years old at the time. For my younger brother, it was largely due to my own love for Godzilla that he was introduced to the King of Monsters when he was close to the same age.


Godzilla truly is a pop-icon. Blue Oyster Cult wrote a song about him. Videogames and action figures have been made for decades with these characters in mind. And comicbooks have attempted to tell stories that the movies could not. Maybe it’s time now to look back to the late ‘90s at a graphic novel put out by Dark Horse Comics, Godzilla: Age of Monsters, to see how it compares to the 56-year old star of 28 Toho films.


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Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010

From time to time, every decade or so, DC comes out with a decent rendition of one of its key creations in the medium of film or television. But, rarely, both at the same time. Or the same decade.


Now, some will disagree and I will honor that disagreement as a gentleman. Times and preferences change. My enthusiasm for re-runs of the 1960s Batman television series and Tim Burton’s big screen remake in 1989 did not translate into a passion for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins or The Dark Knight (though I acknowledge the compelling storytelling and artistry of both that keep fans wanting more). I even found Batman Forever psychologically compelling. And, yes, like many others I celebrated Christopher Reeve as the big-screen Superman and could even tolerate Brandon Routh in the role in the 21st century remake, Superman Returns. And despite its many, many flaws, I still love the 1980s big screen version of Supergirl with Helen Slater, Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole.


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